|A nice cool pint of Pilsner Urquell|
Oddly enough, I felt the same, the previous year, at the EBBC in Brussels, when after various Lambics, Saisons, strong Trappist Ales and Sour beers I was almost gagging for a pint of something more “normal”, and something more refreshing.
|Some serious beer sampling|
Like the Emperor’s New Clothes, devotees of the new, the novel and the downright bizarre, will eventually get tired and move onto the next “in thing”. We have already seen this at the extreme end of the craft beer movement, where these acolytes have graduated onto artisan gin, as being the next trend to follow, and the next drink to be seen drinking.
|Tankovna - mobile bar-system|
It is a pity really because there are some really interesting beers being brewed, with brewers really pushing the boundaries as far as established styles are concerned. Breweries such as De Molen, which I visited recently, and wrote about here, are a case in point.
The trouble is that for every innovative brewery like De Molen, which 9 times out of 10 gets it right, there are an awful lot of breweries who don’t! I get the feeling that some just experiment for the sake of it; fair enough if you’re not attempting to foist your undrinkable, grossly un-balanced mishmash of a brew on the unsuspecting public. However, if you are nothing more than a crowd-pleaser, turning out the latest “in thing” in the beer world, just to make a fast buck, without having done your homework properly, then you are doing the world of beer and brewing a grave disservice.
|Beer menu - De Molen|
Unfortunately, even if you are turning out amazing beers, unless you can shift your market focus away from these fickle followers of trends; fair-weather friends, who have no real appreciation of what your beers are about, and who are only looking for the next “awesome” beer style, then much of your effort and innovation will be wasted.
I admit it will be a hard task trying to convince the average pub drinker to slip that far out of his or her comfort zone, but a steady trickle down may in the end have some effect. After all, who would have thought we’d see drinkers enjoying a glass of cloudy wheat beer, of a strong Abbey-style beer; even if it is Leffe. Going back even further, who would have predicted the rise and general dominance of that most Germanic drink – lager; especially just a couple of decades after the end of the Second World War?
For me the ideal strength for a beer is between 4 and 5% ABV. Stronger than this and the beer can be cloying, and even too sweet; but equally a beer much below 3% will be thin and lacking in body. This is why those glasses of Pilsner Urquell were so appealing, and this is why it is so enjoyable to sit in a local pub and quaff a few pints of one of the best beers available in this part of England; namely Harvey’s Sussex Best.
There really are few things finer in life than the appreciation and enjoyment of good beer; especially when it takes place in an unspoilt country pub, here in the UK, or under the shade of the chestnut trees in a sunlit Biergarten in Bavaria. Some of Belgium’s classic beers too are best enjoyed in a quiet, atmospheric café, tucked away down a side alley in one of the country’s historic towns, and knocking back a few mugs of hoppy Pilsner, in a bustling Prague pub, takes a lot of beating.
|Gasthof Brückenwirt - Munich|